How to Volunteer in a Nursing Home

Nursing Home Volunteer Training

Not all nursing home volunteer positions require training. The amount of training depends on the type of position you'd like. If you just want to hang out and play card games with the residents, most nursing homes don't require anything more than an application, a brief interview and an informal orientation.

For more involved positions, such as working one-on-one to provide support for a resident who has a limited life span, you'll need a little more training. Nursing home residents who don't have much longer to live are often put into hospice care. This is specialized care for someone who is preparing for death. This is a difficult time for patients and their family members, and it's important that those working in hospice care are properly prepared.

When you work in hospice care, your interaction will not just be with the patient as a caregiver. In many cases, you will also be available to the patient's family members who need spiritual or emotional support as they prepare to say goodbye to a loved one.

This situation can be emotionally draining for family members, and for someone on the outside -- like a volunteer -- it can be difficult to find the right words to say. That is why many programs require hospice volunteers to have training in emergency medical procedures, concepts of death and dying, and grief support. To find a hospice in your area, check out the Hospice Foundation of America's online hospice directory [source: Hospice Foundation of America].

Volunteering doesn't help only the residents of the nursing home - you can benefit, too. Want to know how? See the next page.